By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Man enters guilty plea in friend's death
Brett Leutenegger of Oregon pleaded guilty to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle at his plea hearing at the Green County Justice Center March 27. According to police reports, he was the driver in a one-vehicle rollover crash near Albany in May 2016 that resulted in the death of his passenger, Dylan Anderson, 21, Oregon. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - An Oregon man charged in the 2016 death of his friend following a rollover crash near Albany pleaded guilty Tuesday to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

Brett A. Leutenegger, 23, will be sentenced on the Class D felony conviction at a hearing June 11 in Green County Circuit Court.

At Tuesday's plea hearing, a related charge of homicide by use of a vehicle with a prohibited blood-alcohol content was dismissed as part of a plea agreement between Green County District Attorney Craig Nolen and Leutenegger's attorney, Christopher Van Wagner.

Nolen and Van Wagner won't be making a joint sentencing recommendation, Nolen said, adding that he will be recommending that Leutenegger be sentenced to three years in prison and five years on extended supervision.

Van Wagner told Judge Thomas Vale that a plea hearing in the case had to be delayed twice because Leutenegger was hospitalized for "mental health struggles" and only recently discharged from the hospital.

During the judge's routine questioning of Leutenegger to determine that he was unimpaired and making his plea freely, Leutenegger disclosed that he is on three medications to treat extreme depression and anxiety. Van Wagner added that Leutenegger is also prescribed an opioid painkiller to treat chronic pain from injuries he sustained in the crash.

Van Wagner said his client is relying on him to present his side of evidence in the case.

"He has no memory whatsoever of the incident," Van Wagner said.

The crash that killed Dylan J. Anderson, 21, Oregon, happened at about 3 a.m. on May 25, 2016, after he, Leutenegger and other friends went out fishing and drinking off Dunphy Road outside Albany, according to police reports filed with the criminal complaint. They left for home in separate vehicles.

According to the police reports:

Anderson was a passenger in the 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck Leutenegger was driving. Their friends were ahead of them in another vehicle.

Leutenegger was northbound on County E near Attica Road when he went off the road and crashed. The pickup truck ended up on its roof in a ditch. When their friends came back to check on them after noticing no headlights behind them, the friends heard Leutenegger and Anderson screaming and found them lying in tall weeds in the ditch.

Anderson said he was OK but looked like he was in shock, one of the friends later told police. Instead of calling for an ambulance, the group of friends, including Leutenegger and Anderson, piled into the other vehicle and continued to Oregon.

By the time Leutenegger arrived home, his abandoned pickup truck had been discovered and reported to authorities. Oregon police officers were waiting for him and cited him for operating while intoxicated.

Medics were also on scene to give Leutenegger first aid. He was transferred to St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, where deputies noted he smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot, glossy eyes. Blood drawn six hours after the crash showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.106 percent, still over the 0.08 limit for driving in Wisconsin.

Friends told police Anderson was fine, just sleeping and "very drunk," but they later decided to drive him to Meriter Hospital in Madison when they couldn't feel his pulse.

Anderson was given CPR upon arriving at the hospital but later pronounced dead. Autopsy results revealed he died of blunt force trauma. His obituary noted he was a 2013 Oregon High School graduate, a kind-hearted person who "made friends easily and everywhere he went" with his "contagious smile and a twinkle in his eye."

Vale ordered that a Department of Corrections pre-sentence investigation report be completed before Leutenegger's sentencing. This is standard practice in cases which may involve a prison sentence.

"This will give me an extensive background" on Leutenegger, Vale said.